By on November 2, 2015

2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country-016

2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country

2.5-liter turbocharged DOHC I-5, VVT (250 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm; 266 lbs-ft @ 1,800-4,200 rpm; 295 lbs-ft overboost)

6-speed Aisin Automatic

20 city/28 highway/23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

20.1 (Observed, MPG)

Base Price: $44,440*

As Tested: $47,315*

* Prices include $940 destination charge.

I understand the logic behind the modern crossover, especially in Sweden.

Sweden’s 360,000 mile network of public and private roads is only 30-percent paved. That leaves some 252,000 miles of unpaved glory to explore. This high percentage of unpaved roads explains why Volvos have long had reasonable ground clearance, why the Swedes invented the headlamp wiper, why the XC70 exists and why Haldex was founded there.

The concept of the crossover is to give you the efficiency of a traditional “car” blended with some offroad ability normally found in a truck-based SUV. (Of course, the modern American crossover is little more than an all-wheel-drive minivan with less practical seats.) While other companies created boxy crossovers like the Highlander and CR-V, Volvo took a European approach by starting with a station wagon, adding all-wheel drive and jacking the ride height up to create the first V70 Cross Country. The result was more aerodynamic than an SUV, had the ride height of a crossover, the practicality of a station wagon and the driving position of a car. Hold that thought.


The soft-road wagon is the automotive Capri pant. It’s like a regular wagon, just a little higher off the ankle. This type of crossover has been successful in Europe where we find a variety of quirky vehicles with increased ride heights and all-wheel drive. Heck, Fiat even makes an offroad Panda. In this light, a high riding sedan makes sense. You get the style of a sedan, which is preferred by Americans to station wagons by about a million to one, with the soft-road ability of a Highlander, Escape or Cherokee.

The interesting thing is the creative process that birthed the S60 Cross Country was also the impetus for the X4, X6 and GLC coupé. But wait, those are coupé-crossovers! To that I say two things: first, they have two too many doors to be a coupé for the modern use of the word, and second, if you squint you’ll see exactly the same side profile on an S60 Cross Country and a BMW X4. Don’t believe me? Let’s review:

S60 vs X4

Now there is a visual difference here: the X4 has a D-pillar behind the rear door while the S60 gives us a hair more trunk. BMW’s Sport Activity Vehicle is really just a liftback with a sedan profile riding on modern crossover underpinnings. How BMW and Volvo arrived at essentially the same profile is worth discussion. BMW took a 3-Series and inflated it to become the X3, then they squished the rear of the X3 until it looked like a 3-Series GT. Still with me? The result is a higher beltline than a traditional sedan and a bulkier front but essentially the same windowline and roofline. Volvo took the more direct path to the same result and just jacked up the S60 to Jeep Cherokee heights. While this form may end up the answer to the question precious few were asking, it is ultimately the same question that caused the X6, X4, ZDX, Crosstour and Mercedes GLC coupé.

2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country

Exterior
Back to the Cross Country. Yes, it really is just a jacked up S60 sedan. No, Volvo didn’t turn the trunk and rear window into a liftback a la the Saab 9000, nor did they change the all-wheel-drive system from the standard S60. The transformation boils down to 7.9 inches of ground clearance, black wheel arches that make the S60 look even higher, metal scuff plates on the front and rear bumpers, blacked out mirrors, black window trim and a honeycomb grille. Seemingly at odds with the offroad mission are the standard 18-inch wheels wrapped in 235/50R18 rubber. (Our tester wore the optional 19-inch wheels and 235/45R19 tires.) Those 50-series tires may be “high-profile” for a modern European sports sedan, but that’s pretty thin for a crossover. The primary difference between the S60 CC and the Euro “SU-coupés” is the height of the body. Park the Volvo next to an Accord and you’ll notice it’s not that much taller overall. Park it next to an X3 and it’s definitely on the shorter side.

Interior
Front seat accommodations are spacious and comfortable, but offer less room than the X4 or GLC. You can thank the traditional sedan seating position for the less roomy feel. For some reason, Volvo makes their normally optional “sport seats” standard in the S60 Cross Country and V60 Cross Country. The increased bolstering on the seat bottom and back cushion fit my 6-foot and 190-pound frame to perfection but, if you’re much larger than me, you may find it a tight fit. All 2016 Volvo models have ditched the manual lumbar support knob for a 2-way power version, which is welcome, but it isn’t as adjustable as the 4-way competition.

Like the regular S60 sedan, the rear seats in the Cross Country are a tight fit. The S60 is one of the smaller luxury sedans in its category. Personally, I am a little surprised that Volvo didn’t use the stretched S60L as the basis for the Cross Country as it would have solved the cramped rear seat problem. The S60 CC’s cargo area is where we see the biggest consequence of Volvo’s decision to leave the S60’s body intact. The trunk in the regular S60 is tight compared to the large hold we find in the 3-Series and it actually shrinks in Cross Country form. You see, the regular S60 doesn’t have a spare and the chassis wasn’t designed to accommodate one either, which is evident in the lack of spare tire well in the trunk. Because Volvo knew this wouldn’t work in a vehicle with a more rugged mission, they raised the trunk floor to squeeze in a donut. The result is more of a cargo slot where the trunk opening is as deep as it is high. The floor of the truck is almost level with the opening of the trunk door.

2016 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation-004

Infotainment
Volvo tweaked their Sensus infotainment system mid-stream in 2015 with the addition of a cellular modem and an expanded feature set. The new “Connected” Sensus gives the driver access to online business searches, streaming media without a smartphone, OnStar-like telematics services (Volvo On Call) and access to Wikipedia. The service requires a data subscription to use the full range of services, but wisely Volvo decided to toss in a WiFi chipset so you can share your cell plan with passengers or use a paired smartphone for Sensus’ data connection if you’d rather not have another cell phone bill. Also along for the ride is a smartphone app to let you see if you locked your car, to start the engine remotely, or honk the horn and flash the lights if you’ve lost your car in the IKEA parking lot.

Volvo’s Sensus system continues to keep up with most of the entries in this segment by adding features to their snappy interface. The system is well laid out, intuitive, and Volvo oddly allows access to essentially everything while the vehicle is in motion. This allows passengers to enter information using the on-dash control wheel without stopping the car. The driver can use the same knob or a control wheel on the steering wheel to control system functions.

Volvo trims the S60 Cross Country only one way — almost fully loaded. That means the normally optional 650-watt Harman Kardon surround sound audio system with HD/XM radio and navigation is standard.

2016 Vovlo S60 Cross Country Engine 2.5L 5-Cylinder 2

Drivetrain
Unlike the messy engine option list on the regular S60, the CC has just one engine — the tried-and-true 2.5-liter five cylinder. In this tune, the engine is good for 250 horsepower and 266 lbs-ft of torque, which can be overboosted to 295 lbs-ft in gears two through six. Unlike some of the competition, or even some of Ford’s Ecoboost engines, this five banger is tuned to run on regular unleaded, which is a nice touch. Because the S60 was created in Europe and designed for European sensibilities, you’ll be surprised to hear it is rated to tow 3,500 pounds, the same as a BMW X4.

Sending the power to all four wheels is a re-tuned Aisin 6-speed automatic transaxle and Haldex all-wheel-drive system. Despite receiving some efficiency tweaks a few years ago, the 2.5’s fuel economy still lags behind the X4 at 23 mpg combined according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Drive the Cross Country hard, which is surprisingly easy, and your economy will drop into the 19s. This generation of Volvo’s all-wheel-drive system can send up to 50 percent of available power to the rear axle at any time, or up to 90 percent if a front wheel slips. Volvo also tosses in a brake-based torque vectoring system for improved feel on the twisties.

2016 S60 Cross Country Interior LCD_

Pricing
On the surface the Cross Country seems like a seriously spendy Swedish meatball. The base model starts at $43,500, which is nearly a $10,000 jump over a base S60 or $8,000 more than the base S60 AWD. Like the V60 Cross Country, however, not all is as it seems. Because Volvo plans on only sending 500 S60 CCs to our shores, the quirky crossover only comes one way. Literally. If you don’t want your Cross Country grey on the outside and black on the inside, you don’t want a Cross Country. Feature wise, there are a few choices. You can get the 19-inch wheels our model wore, wood trim and speed sensitive steering as standalone options. For $1,550, you can get the heated-everything package that brings heated front and rear seats, steering wheel, wiper nozzles, and inserts an electric grid into the windshield like you see in some Range Rovers. There is also a package that adds blind spot monitoring, front parking sensor and cross traffic detection.

The options list is short because the Cross Country already has everything else standard including Volvo’s excellent radar cruise control, active HID headlamps, premium audio, navigation, LCD instrument cluster, leather, sport seats, park assist, moonroof, and autonomous braking with pedestrian detection.

So how much does it cost you to jack up your S60? As it turns out, nothing at all. This extensive feature set means the Cross Country upgrade actually costs a hair less than a similarly equipped S60 T5 AWD. A comparably equipped Audi allroad will set you back at least $4,000 more and the X4 xDrive28i is $8,000 more than the Cross Country.

2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country-008

Drive
In terms of neutral handling dynamics, no matter how many wheels get the power, little is going to make up for having 3/5ths of your weight on the front axle. While many reviews complain about the fact that Audi likes to put their engines completely in-front of the front axle, the Audi allroad still has a better (54/46) weight balance than the S60. That being said, the S60’s chassis is well composed on all road surfaces and is perhaps one of the best front-wheel-drive platforms on offer in America.

Of course, the CC gets all-wheel drive standard, and the drivetrain management software is programmed to send more power to the rear and do it more often than mass market crossovers. This means that while your Highlander or Sorento will have a moment of front-wheel slip on a gravel road, the S60 won’t. On the downside, that frequent engagement takes a toll on fuel economy and I averaged about the same fuel economy as the last XC60 that I tested.

Although the S60 CC doesn’t have the thrust of the S60 T6, the five-cylinder engine produces nearly as much torque and the car is 200 pounds lighter. Coupled with the faster-shifting automatic, our tester ran to highway speeds in 6.4 seconds in Drive and 6.2 seconds in Sport, essentially identical to our results in a 2015 BMW X4 xDrive28i. Despite having narrower tires than the M-Sport equipped X4, stopping our S60 tester from 60 to zero was achieved four-feet shorter than the Bavarian thanks to the Swede’s lighter curb weight.

2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country-006

The X4 parallel continues when it comes to handling and ride quality in the Cross Country. This is not the pillow-soft AMC Eagle of your childhood. The S60 is firmly sprung in every version including this one. The firmness of the suspension is, like the tire selection, at odds with the supposed offroad mission. On rough roads, the S60 manages to avoid being crashy, but your kidneys will likely be sore by the end of a five-mile dirt road. On the flip side, the S60 actually handles as well as the X4 and exhibits less body roll when the going gets twisty. It’s all down to simple physics: the S60 has a lower center of gravity than the BMW. Even without the optional variable steering, the S60’s tiller is well weighted, accurate and as numb as any luxury car with electric power steering.

Volvo’s XC70 is a very different beast: the soft suspension soaks up poor pavement, the AWD system is sure-footed whatever the weatherman brings your way, and there’s zero kidney bruising to be had when four-wheelin’ it across your organic ranchette. The S60 Cross Country, on the other hand, is made for folks that live down a short gravel road but drive on high-speed winding mountain roads for most of their commute. In other words, my demographic exactly and the same mission as Volvo’s V60 Cross Country.

2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country-011

I live in a home where my better half still won’t let me forget that I bought a Volvo wagon once upon a time. Since it was my daily driver for several years and I picked my battle carefully, I got the wagon anyway. Put this all together and I truly am the target demographic. I live in the redwood forest down a privately maintained gravel road, my nearest neighbor is over a mile away, I’m no longer allowed to buy a station wagon and I have 120 chickens. Don’t ask.

The problem is Americans are not a pragmatic bunch and we’d much rather commute solo on perfectly paved roads in our Cadillac Escalades. Have a gravel driveway? Want to tow a teardrop trailerette? Americans would buy a Ford F-450. Despite the S60 Cross Country being made exactly for my situation, and even taking into account my love for some Euro-funky transportation, I’d buy the XC60 instead.

The S60 Cross Country, like the X4, is the sporty answer to a question I have never asked. How about you?

Volvo provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.4 Seconds

0-60: 6.2 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.9 @ 93 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 21.8 MPG

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32 Comments on “2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country Review – The Sport Utility… Sedan? [Video]...”


  • avatar
    Fred

    I live on a county gravel road where I have never felt the need to have a car like this. True when driving the sports cars I’ve had to dodge pot holes and ruts, but I did that in the truck as well. Most of my neighbors disagree with me and yet they keep trying to get the county to pave the road. Good luck with that Tea party commissioner.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I think you summed it up nicely with those facts on Swedish roads. This was cheap and easy to do and in certain markets might move some units. Unlike BMW who spent “money” to develop a horrible model which demeans their image and doesn’t move a volume that warrants its own model, Volvo just goes into the parts bin.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      You’ve got to be kidding. While the X4 may not sell in huge numbers in the US, the stupid thing is a hit in the rest of the world, just like the X6 is.

      Having spent some time in Sweden, in many cases their unpaved roads are in better condition than our paved roads. Any need for more than non-lowered car ride height is purely delusional.

  • avatar
    WhiskeyRiver

    I wasn’t interested at all until my eye caught the word “crossover.” Now I’m all giddy for the damned thing.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “Despite the S60 Cross Country being made exactly for my situation”

    Get Outlander v6 – perfect

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Maybe that’s a buy in Europe but I wouldn’t touch one here short of free.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      The Outlander and I don’t get along. I had a rental once and in all honestly it is far from attractive in terms of value, style, features, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        What I mean… take 2015 XC70 and you pay about 40g. Take 2012 and it is around 25. Why lose so much money on Volvo if you can buy something else to do what you want to do and much cheaper. Look at this instrument panel, what is it, Civic?

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        My take on the Outlander, given that there are three in my extended family (Aunt and cousins). They sell them stupid cheap. They don’t seem any worse than anything else in their class, because NOTHING in that class is remotely worth getting excited about. So you might as well get the one that is $8K off with a long warranty and 0% for eons financing. It’s cheap and nasty inside, so what? So is everything else like it.

        This Volvo will do just as well as the Subaru SUS did. Good thing they are only bringing in 500 of them, because that is probably the whole market.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    That’s a bit of hyperbole when it comes to towing. For a teardrop trailer, people aren’t running out and buying a SuperDuty. They may buy crew cab 1/2 ton trucks that get about the same MPG as this sedan but come with way more utility, reliability, and durability. I think that makes use very pragmatic.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I’d like to know what world you live in that 1/2 ton trucks get decent fuel economy. Because all of my friends/family with them get in the mid-teens at best. From there to the mid-20s I expect any decent European car to get is a HUGE jump. As is 20 highway vs. 30 highway. Then the issues of parking, both on streets and in our cramped eastern parking lots and tiny old garages. The utility of giant pickups leaves a lot to be desired, unless you actually NEED that open bed. The contents of which are going to get mighty wet and dirty most of the year here. I figure if you NEED a pickup, you NEED a pickup, but IMHO they make pretty lousy cars.

      As for durability, maybe in places where there is not a 5mo annual salt bath and an annual inspection. Around here, there are more old Volvos than there are old pickups, which is kind of amazing given the relative sales numbers. Figure a minimum of 10 half tons for every Volvo ever sold? Maybe the aluminum F-150 will manage 15 years without failing safety inspection for holes in the cab and/or rotted out brake lines.

  • avatar
    Alex L. Dykes

    It is a bit of hyperbole of course, but it is based on an actual situation. A friend of mine had a Mazda CX-9, tow rating of 3,500 pounds. They went out and got a Flagstaff tent trailer, GVWR of maybe 2,500 pounds. They towed it exactly once and then replaced the CX-9 with a Ford F-350 diesel because “the Mazda was always struggling and the F-350 tows it like its not even there.” True story. However, news flash: the F-350 tows it like its not there because it is designed for 20,000+ pounds and the trailer dripping wet was maybe 2,300 to 2,400. For the record I tow regularly because we are building our own home and have a small organic farm and my Grand Cherokee, Envoy and 9-7x have never had problems towing 7,500lbs.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Your friend was driving in nails with a claw hammer and now he’s using a 15 pound sledge. I think they just wanted an F350 diesel and thought he needed to use “towing” to justify it. People should just be okay with owning a 3/4 truck because they like it. I’m going to replace my wife’s MkT in the next year or two with a Navigator. I’ll appreciate that it it’s better at towing when I tow 7-10 times a year, but I certainly don’t need the extra capacity.

  • avatar
    tremorcontrol

    Alex, great review as always. 28-Cars is right: S60 CC is an exercise in parts-bin portfolio building. At first I thought it looked ridiculous, but although I’m sure who would buy it, it’s growing on me… I think this is just a way for volvo to tread water and be able to talk about something while they move to a new platform.

    In your review of the V60 cross country, you say you’d get the XC70 instead. In this review, you say you’d get the XC60 instead of the S60cc. What would you choose between the XC60 and XC70? (or would you just jump to the new XC90 since those other two will get significant refreshes in the next several years?)

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Well, I am sad that the 3.0L engine can’t be had in the XC70 anymore and therefore it gets knocked off my wish list. The XC60 T6 therefore wins now.

      • 0 avatar
        kosmo

        Alex, start looking NOW, then, because Volvo has officially stopped accepting orders for XC60s with the fabulous inline six turbo engine.

        I’m keeping my R-Design forever.

        Which I bought in part due to your review, several years ago, IIRC.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Save for performance this thing manages to re create the 240 sedan pretty well, the jacked up suspension, the driving position, the 28mpg..

    Maybe itll go for a million miles too

  • avatar
    Der_Kommissar

    Nice AMC eagle reference. My uncle had one in the 80’s and I thought it was pretty ugly back then. That might be why I have a hard time looking at those proportions and liking the S60 CC now.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    It’s a really good looking car. The extra height and bigger (looking) wheels add a nice touch to what was already a looker.

    I know people will disagree, but it would be even better in FWD, in color, with a 300 HP T6 engine, and a manual. Volvo people aren’t the fun-loving Swedes, they are the introspective Ingmar Bergman-esque Swedes, so they wouldn’t go for that..

    BTW, can we retire the cliché of a 50/50 weight balance being better? The only thing special about 50/50 is that you can run similar spring rates and tire pressures front and back.
    Think about it: what successful race car has ever run 50/50? Formula cars are nearer 30/70, rally cars and Nascars are front-biased. What makes a good-handling car is a low moment of inertia, even if the center of mass is nearer one axle than the other.
    If 50/50 was important, an F250 with a full load of manure would handle like a Lotus Europa.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    I don’t know. In between this gen of weird crossovers and when AMC did it, there was the Subaru Outback Sedan. How many of those did you ever see on the roads?

    The issues appears to be that Americans prefer sedans over wagons. However, they also prefer trucks or something that looks like a truck. Hence the creation of the modern CUV. Problem is the Volvo does not look like a truck, it looks like a car. And while raising the suspension on your car so you could put oversize wheels on it was popular in various downtown areas for a while, this doesn’t seem like it will catch on with any but a few looking for something different, but still practical.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    God help me, I like this thing. Partially because I live on a long, awful gravel / mud driveway, and winters here result in times, inevitably, when despite the best Blizzak has to offer, ground clearance is the limiting factor for getting the hell out of the house. And I don’t particularly want an SUV. So for me, bizarrely, this fits (assuming the rear seat is big enough to handle two kids, one of whom is in a rear-facing seat).

    For Volvo’s sake, though, I hope that relatively-well-heeled people living on long, crappy driveways in areas that get a lot of snow aren’t the only market, because I can’t imagine my demographic justifies a whole model – or even a slightly new version – of a car.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    Car makes no sense to me.

    2016 Volvo V60 Cross Country Wagon/Estate?

    Yeah.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    It’s not my cup of tea, but they’ll sell every one they bring over, considering the low numbers.

    Some people just don’t want a wagon, crossover, minivan, even if it might make more sense.

    And that’s fine with me. I’m a big fan of allowing at least some emotion into car buying.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I’d still get the XC70, since all Volvos cost the same except the XC90, which is now up to $80k or whatever. And unless you’re selling me a Polestar blue Volvo for 47k, you’d better let me pick the dang color.

  • avatar
    legacygt

    Trivial stuff but, to me, one of the great oddities of option packages is the “blacked out” vs. “body colored” trim or mirrors or whatever. Neither one is inherently better. But it many cases, one is standard on lower tier packages and the other is available on higher tier packages. It’s not a huge deal but it’s a window into the power of marketing and the weakness of the consumer to make intelligent, fact-based purchasing decisions. One car will charge you more to paint some parts black while another car will charge you more to paint those same parts the color of the rest of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      My Mom was amused by this. One car had black trim as the premium option, the next car charged you more for body-colored trim.

      That confirmed her suspicion that everything coming out of salesmen’s mouths was BS, so she shouldn’t have any qualms about them “losing money on this deal,” or whatever else they claimed.

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